Champions League

Giroud guides ‘nervy’ Chelsea closer to Champions League

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
Giroud guides ‘nervy’ Chelsea closer to Champions League

Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud (C) takes a shot during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Norwich City at Stamford Bridge in London on July 14, 2020. (Photo by Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /

Chelsea strengthens its hopes of finishing in the top 4 behind Olivier Giroud

Frank Lampard admitted Chelsea is struggling with nerves as it chases a place in the Champions League next season after Olivier Giroud scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over already relegated Norwich at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, July 14.

Victory opens up a four-point lead for third-placed Chelsea over Leicester and Manchester United, who both have a game in hand later this week.

But Lampard knows there is still plenty of work to do with a trip to champions Liverpool and sixth-placed Wolves visiting Stamford Bridge on the last day of the season to come in Chelsea’s final two league games of the season.

“I want more but that can wait. Where we are at as a team and our position in the table, 3 points is everything,” said Lampard.

“If we want to really move on then it can be better. It’s not easy, there is a nervy feeling there for understandable reasons.”

Lampard was furious with his side’s lack of fight in surrendering to a 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday that plunged Chelsea’s chances of a top 4 finish into doubt.

The former England international made 5 changes from the battering at Bramall Lane with Giroud among those restored to the starting line-up.

Chelsea has already significantly bolstered its frontline for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

But Giroud has more than justified the decision to also extend his contract by a year during football’s shutdown as Chelsea’s most potent striker since the restart.

“He’s a big character for us and scoring important goals,” added Lampard.

Giroud saw a number of chances come and go in the first half as an attempted lob over Tim Krul fell gently into the Dutch ‘keeper’s arms before he sliced well over the bar when unmarked inside the area.

Christian Pulisic forced Krul into his best save of the first-half with a powerful drive that was just too close to the former Newcastle stopper.

Just as Norwich looked set to hold out until the break Giroud shrugged off Timm Klose to connect with Pulisic’s cross for his fifth goal in eight games.

“I missed some I don’t miss usually,” said Giroud. “I lost a bit of confidence but my desire to score was bigger, so I just tried to stay focused and on the cross of Christian I anticipated this header.”

Norwich’s long-awaited fate of a return to the Championship was confirmed in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of West Ham on Saturday.

There was more defiance from the Canaries in defense, but they failed to score for the seventh time in their last 8 games to slump to a ninth straight defeat.

Daniel Farke’s men failed to even test Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga or a defence that has been under the microscope for conceding 49 goals already in the league this season with a shot on target. – Rappler.com